MBA Student Profile: Natasha Lakhani, Imperial College Business School

Find out why Natasha Lakhani chose Imperial College Business School to study her MBA

MBA student Natasha Lakhani has spent the last seven years working for Royal Dutch Shell PLC in a variety of finance roles. She speaks to about the decision to study for an MBA, why she chose Imperial, and her plans for the future.


Tell us a bit about yourself – Your background, where you grew up, interests away from the classroom etc.

Discover why Natasha Lakhani chose to study her MBA at Imperial Business School in LondonHello, I’m Natasha! Originally born in Kenya I moved to the UK aged three and ever since, London has been home. I have a BSc in Management from The London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) and I am a part-qualified accountant. Since my teens I’ve always been interested by the energy challenge and the impact that it will have on my generation and beyond. Based on this, I’ve pursued a career in the energy sector, which I find fulfilling and personally motivating. I’m currently pursuing a full-time MBA at Imperial College Business School in London and thoroughly enjoying the experience of being back at university.


What were you doing before your MBA?

Prior to my MBA, I was working for the oil & energy major Royal Dutch Shell PLC in a variety of finance, credit and treasury focused roles for the past seven years.  Most recently, I was a treasury manager for the EMEA region, where my key responsibilities included formulating financing strategies for Shell OpCos, JV (joint venture) interests, new business development and M&A&D (merger and acquisition and divestiture) projects across downstream functions. Prior to this, I was the credit operations manager for Singapore & Indonesia, based and working in Malaysia, leading a team of 19 subordinates.


What made you want to study for an MBA?

It’s always been a personal ambition of mine to return to university and pursue an MBA. I see it to be a uniquely practical masters qualification. Having only ever worked in the energy sector, and for one company since I graduated, I wanted to explore what other functional areas I found interesting and where I could take the next stage of my career. Now felt like the right time as I’m looking to make a functional change in my career, moving away from finance in oil & gas into business development of renewables. I chose to pursue an MBA as the degree covers a breath of business concepts relevant to today’s business world, but also supports candidates to grow in practical skills such as leadership, communication negotiation, networking and career progression.


How did you decide Imperial was the right match for you?

I chose Imperial College to pursue my MBA as it is a prestigious university, acknowledged globally with a great reputation. I looked at rankings, details of the MBA program in the prospectus and spoke with previous alumni. I liked that the Imperial full-time MBA was one-year in length and that the cohort size was more intimate than at other business schools I was considering. What sold it for me was attending the business school campus and meeting the faculty and students. I could see myself studying here. Every MBA and every MBA school is different, it’s so important you find the right one for you that fits and feels right. For me, that was Imperial.


Did you consider other business schools in the UK / other countries?

I did consider other schools in the UK. In fact, I initially started with a list of five and did some research on the course structure, cohort size and attended a few campus events. I eventually applied to three UK business schools, getting admission into all three and choosing Imperial.


What sources did you use in your research? Rankings, face-to-face meetings with business schools, websites etc.

Research is key to an MBA. It is such an enormous commitment of your time, money and effort that choosing the right school and program is vital, so I spent a lot of time researching. I looked at university rankings and also business school prospectuses to create an initial list of schools I was interested in. I then contacted the recruitment teams and had discussions with them to get further information. Finally, and for me most fruitful, was going on campus and seeing the school and experiencing time on campus. I thoroughly encourage visiting the campus. If you can’t an alternative would be to search for videos of the business school online to get a feel of what student life there is like. 


What else did you look out for when researching your MBA?

Three things are key to research when deciding where to pursue your MBA. The school, the program and the alumni. You’re going to spend a lot of your time at business school (trust me), so you need to like and enjoy the environment your school is in. Secondly, whilst MBA programs are widely similar in content, I found there were some schools which had more of a finance focus, whilst others, such as Imperial, really showcased an entrepreneurial and innovative focus. Read through the prospectuses and make sure the topics you’re passionate about are represented in the modules. Finally the people. Again, the people on your course will become one of the biggest assets you take away from the MBA. Get a flavour of past cohorts’ backgrounds. Are these the type of people and networks you want to gain from the MBA? What business areas do alumni go into after the MBA? You should ask yourself whether this resonates with your ambitions and post-MBA goals too.


How are you financing your studies?

I am fortunate that I was awarded with a Forté Foundation Scholarship and Fellowship from the Forté Foundation which finances half of my tuition fees. The Forté Foundation is a non-profit consortium of companies and business schools which work together to give more women opportunities to go to business school and pursue high potential career opportunities. Most top business schools are affiliated with the Forté Foundation.


What advice would you give someone going through the admissions process?

First thing I’d say is you’re never going to feel completely ready to apply. But if you’re passionate about pursuing an MBA and if you want to make a change in your career, now is probably a good a time as any. Make sure you do your research and check that an MBA can help you achieve what you want. You may find other qualifications or experiences could be more effective and that’s something you need to spend time validating. Finally, give yourself enough time. Enough time to research schools and programs but also to complete GMAT tests and ensure your application is as good as it can be.


What are your plans for after your MBA?

After my MBA I wish to return to the energy sector as I am passionate about the industry and the move from conventional oil products to renewables. This is something I want to be part of. Ideally, I would love to pursue a business development role in renewables and new energies.


Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time

I am passionate about getting the best out of people and have really enjoyed my previous experience leading a team. I hope that in 10 years’ time I can be a successful female leader in an energy multinational, contributing to society’s energy needs. I’d love to have travelled and worked in a few new and exotic places between now and then, and have the opportunity to mentor young and female talent in the energy sector too.

Written by Phil Cottrell

Phil is the editor of and has a breadth of editorial and digital marketing experience. He has worked across a variety of industries from e-commerce and commercial real estate to managing all content for a C-suite careers site aimed at UK and US professionals.

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